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IN CONVERSATION WITH AMRAPALI FOUNDER RAJIV ARORA

— RAJIV ARORA

In an exclusive with Explosive Fashion, Amrapali founder Rajiv Arora describes his journey from workshops of Jaipur to a global brand.

 

''To do any business, finance is the foremost requirement as it's first generation business; we had almost no money and no bank was willing to finance us without security, so we did several trips a week to sell our handicrafts products in Delhi and Agra, which were the main markets for tourist shopping. When we started manufacturing, finding good human resource for administration and craftsmanship was not easy; retail shops, dependable employees, great location and good branding is a must. Our first boutique at The Oberoi Shopping Centre Mumbai and subsequent flagship stores at Jaipur and Delhi were milestones of our journey; later, our operations in the United Kingdom and the opening of Amrapali Museum are very important achievements. That said, the core vision when we launched the brand was to showcase the beauty of Indian design, be it tribal, rural, folk or royal.

 

Each piece of jewellery produced at Amrapali is handcrafted. Initially we used to get our ornaments manufactured from craftsman in different parts of Rajathan; it was difficult to achieve pieces as per specification and we spent a lot of time in educating them with our design ethos; however even achieving an ancient ethnic look or the right weight was a difficult task!! Now, with technology and the support of our design team, we give them a proper order sheet and design specifications; many of them our keen learners and do their job very efficiently. Yet, even as the brand holds on to traditional roots, its design aesthetic appeals to luxury global clientele. Our vision — work locally, think globally, our traditions, art, culture and crafts are our biggest asset! One needs to use this to produce merchandise suitable for International clientele and contemporary fashion. And I think the best way is to participate in International trade shows, keep your eyes and ears open, and be innovative.

 

Today I feel we have created a buzz in Fashion, Hollywood and Bollywood and made India proud — Amrapali's crowning moments was being commissioned by Harrods to design an exquisite crown in celebration of the Queen's diamond jubilee in 2012 and being the only Indian jeweller to exhibit at Fine Jewelry Room, Harrods. Amrapali has designed jewellery for Hollywood blockbusters 'Troy' and 'Best MariGold Hotel'. The filmmakers were looking for someone who can deign and execute jewellery according to their requirements. India is a living culture and we still make ornaments similar to ancient jewellery, so we could do justice to both films. We are also proud of our association with designer Manish Arora. He is one of the most talented indian designers and he was impressed by our museum collection;  so when he designed a beautiful collection for Paris Fashion Week,we decided to collaborate and create a spectacular, colourful, bold and distinctive line — it was well accepted by our customers!

 

The next milestone in our journey was Amrapali Museum. On our trips to buy old silver, we saw people bringing old jewellery to melt at refineries or hawk it at pawn shops; it was shocking that to get some money, valuable pieces of art were being destroyed! So we decided to tour the country and collect distinctive pieces from the different states, and pretty soon it became a large collection which we exhibited in museums and art galleries in the United Kingdom. A catalogue, 'Chandrika — Silver Ornaments Of India', was published, as we had photographed and documented 500+ pieces… and the thought of opening a museum was born. This museum is for preserving Indian silver and gold ornaments and art objects, presenting to the world the skills of Indian silversmithing and goldsmithing; and it is also a great source of information for history and design students, scholars, tourists and other museums of world. Our quest to acquire important pieces continues unabated as this is the only museum in the world dedicated to rural, tribal, folk and royal Indian jeweled art objects and ornaments. Recently I saw an exhibition of gifts received by the British Royal Family at Queens Gallery Buckingham Palace; there are few similar pieces in Amrapali Museum. Victoria and Albert Museum also has similar pieces to our collection and that shows the depth, variety and rarity of the Amrapali collection.

 

And then came our e-store, Tribe; inspired by tribal designs, it is the community of people with a discerning eye who love our designs and aesthetics. The business of retail is changing with time and online business is the future and hence this e-store Amrapali is an aspirational brand; with Tribe we have tried to make it to suit every pocket and taste as its young,vibrant and refreshing — a must for accessorising any wardrobe!

 

Now, I'm passing the mantle to my son Tarang who is a bright knowledgeable young man; he has seen and learned the nuances of the trade with me and my business partner Rajesh Ajmera. We didn't undergo formal education in gemmology but he's a certified gemologist,designer and learned bench work as a course of study. He represents 21st century India, young India. He has studied and worked overseas so his design sensibilities is open, universal and modern yet he uses Indian beauty, art, heritage and culture as inspiration. He understands his responsibilities, his legacy and as a team leader he motivates his design team in the workshop. We were really proud when he received Best Design Award in Colour Stone Jewellery at the most important couture jewellery show at Las Vegas, 2018.

 

What's next on the cards? Learning, earning and giving back to society has been our philosophy,  and after opening the museum our next project is to launch a world class design school in Jaipur and also make Tribe a global brand!!"
 

Amrapali
Amrapali Founder Rajiv Arora
 
23-JUNE-2018
 
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